I exist as I am, that is enough. – Walt Whitman
Recently I read a book titled Big Magic, by one of my favourite people Elizabeth Gilbert…you know, from Eat, Pray, Love. In this book she speaks very openly and candidly about living creatively—in whatever form that might take for you. In one specific piece of the book, she speaks about people who want to write so that they can help others. She passionately objects when she hears these words, instead she encourages these people that they should please not write books or articles or blogs to try to help others, they should please not try to help her…they should instead write to help themselves! They should instead tell their own story and speak their own truth, and if they happen to help another person through this fearless self-truth-telling…fantastic! (Of course I’m taking liberties with her exact wording here…but the premise is the same..I think).
So as a tribute to Liz’s fearless plea to live creatively, and to tell your story, and to tell your truth, I have decided, as my first blog post, to share some of mine…”some” for the plain reason that this is a blog-post and not a tome-sized book.
As far back as I can remember I have always felt an over-whelming need to understand human behaviour…that is to say, why we do what we do, what drives us and why some of us are so stuck in our ways that we end up sabotaging every relationship in our lives, and eventually every aspect of our lives as well. Without ever seeking assistance, without ever wanting to heal, for whatever reason. (I’m sure our father Sigmund would have an ear-full to say about this, but luckily for me most of his theories are largely discredited). In any case, I NEEDED to know. I figured that if I understood this, then I could more easily understand my own experiences in my own life.
And so I set off on a fact-finding-understanding-seeking quest…it was far more of a quest than a journey—I feel like a journey is more relaxed, while a quest is vigorously and passionately driven! I read, I took classes and when I was old enough, I started studying psychology. I loved it and it loved me…well mostly. It was easy for me to move through the ranks and selections, I never had any trouble with lecturers and peers confirming that I was “meant” for this path. That is until I entered my masters degree program and came face-to-face with the most intimidating human being I have, and probably will, ever meet (if you ever cared enough to ask anyone who knows me, I am not a person who is easily intimidated by anyone), but there was something about this man…this man who was going to show me, and unlock for me, the secrets of the human psyche that made you feel like he was looking into the depths of your being…and then tearing your insides out…he was gonna make a shrink out of me yet!
If you’ve ever stood stark-naked in front of 12 strangers while they closely examine every flaw on your body, then you have a pretty good understanding of what it feels like to be trained as a psychologist. Well…instead of flaws of your body being debated over, “flaws” of your person, your personality and everything you have called “you” is examined and critiqued. The idea is to unpack your suitcase of stuff…you know…the one where you carry every hurt, every trauma, every sadness, anxiety, depression, heartache…the list goes on. Every item is carefully taken out and examined, commented on and decided what to do with. If you’re wondering, this is not a very nice experience. But this is what we go through to answer to our calling. It does eventually end and we do eventually make it out alive, some of us easily and some of us barely (I was more in the barely category), but we make it none-the-less.
From that time until now I made a quiet promise to myself that no-one would ever give me s*&#t about who I was ever again, no one would ever get to tell me that I am too much of this and not enough of that, without me deciding whether it is true or not. That, consequently is also the approach I take to therapy. I can give feedback, I can give input, but it is never my decision how my clients should heal. I offer tools and strategies and kindness and light and mindfulness and empathy…lots of empathy, but I never force anyone to do or feel or think anything they are not willing to, or ready to.
Kind, gentle, compassionate, with pragmatic strategies…that is the type of person, and the type of therapist I have chosen to be…and I like it, in fact I love it! (And I think I’m rather good at it.) So this is what I had dedicated the past 11 years of my life to…the pursuit of understanding.
What have I learned? Has gaining a deep understanding into my own experiences in my own life resulted in any healing for me? Yes and no. Yes, some understanding does create some feelings of control over what is happening, but mostly, healing takes place when we take control of our own minds…our own thoughts and our own feelings and our own behaviour toward experiences in our lives. The nice thing is, we get to choose. We get to choose how we react to a person or event or relationship or someone who attacks us or says something ugly or hurtful or a series of negative experiences in our lives. We get to choose whether we are going to accept these things, whether we are going to absorb them, whether we are going to set ourselves on fire to keep others warm…or whether we are going to shut the door and choose ourselves, our own life, our own healing. And if you do not know how to do this, how to choose yourself, there are people in this world who have dedicated their lives to helping others achieve this healing and peace.
Namaste…it is nice to meet you.